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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

CHAPTER XII

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN EDUCATION

i. ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL FACTORS

THE nearer we come to our own times the more difficult it is to
see the facts of educational change in proper perspective. The
difficulty is all the greater because the rate of change in the last
fifty or sixty years has been extraordinarily rapid, and because
the change is still in progress. Yet if it be kept in mind that the
character of educational thought and practice is always determined
by the wider social and intellectual movements, it need not be
an altogether impossible task to distinguish and even to some
extent to evaluate the main tendencies in recent education.

The first point to be noted in this connection is the increasing
importance attached to vocational preparation as an element in
education by all modern States. This is the direct outcome of
the spread of industrialism throughout the civilized world, For
the greater part of the Nineteenth Century, Great Britain enjoyed
a virtual monopoly as a manufacturing nation. But gradually the
other nations began to manufacture for themselves and to seek
an entry for their products into the markets of the world; and
by the beginning of the present century there had been established
an international system of commerce in which most of the great
nations and some of the smaller were active competitors. In this
struggle for economic supremacy education has played a notable
part. Germany and America, Britain's chief rivals, were not slow
to realize that it was only by making their people efficient by means
of proper technical training that they could make up the leeway
lost by their late start. The success achieved by their efforts in
this direction has been ample justification for the faith in education
which inspired them, and has made it inevitable that similar
methods should be adopted by every other nation. The result is
to be seen in the steady increase in the provision of facilities for
vocational training of all kinds which has been taking place over
Europe within recent years. Everywhere technical colleges,
agricultural colleges and similar institutions, giving instruction